Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another house showing

We were notified this evening of another house showing for tomorrow evening. We had one last weekend after a very long time of no showings, so I had my work cut out for me cleaning the house from top to bottom. We managed to keep it pretty clean most of the week and then the whole thing just blew up in my face around Friday.

Everyone has been helping clean tonight, and it'll be all clean when I go to bed tonight. Tomorrow will be the tricky part, since there will be five kids here all day tomorrow. I'm thinking about getting up early and getting them up and taking everyone over to my SIL's house for the day. Of course that is much easier said than done, but if we can keep from messing up the entire house again tomorrow that would be wonderful for me.

We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Facebook nurse-in

A virtual nurse-in is being hosted at Facebook today. I'm participating!

Facebook removes breastfeeding photos, saying they are obscene.

To participate in the nurse-in, just change your profile photo to a breastfeeding one and in the bubble that says "What are you doing right now?" type in the words "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"

My profile photo has been changed to this sweet one taken by my older daughter when my son was just several weeks old.

If you want to participate but are not a member, just go to and sign up. If you do not have a breastfeeding picture, it looks like any photo of a mother feeding her young will do, according to the Boston Herald.

To find out more about the event, just go to this Facebook link.

I found a lot of interesting information by searching the name of the host group: Mothers International Lactation Campaign. In fact, the entire first page was filled with sites giving information about the Facebook nurse-in today.

One of the better sites I found when I searched was Motherwear's Breastfeeding Blog.

It's offensive enough that Facebook says a mother feeding her child in the way nature intended, but it's widely known that this social site allows all manner of lewd photos on their site. That is what is obscene, not a mother and child doing what they were created to do.

I joined Facebook about a month ago at the urging of a friend of mine, but I decided that it's a bit too social for me. I really don't need to know what my friends are saying to their other friends. Now with the knowledge that Facebook says photos of mothers feeding their children are obscene, I doubt I will frequent the site much at all anymore. I do hope the nurse-in moves them to change their policy and to apologize to all the users whose breastfeeding photos were removed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Look who's talking now!

Verbal communication is finally starting to make sense to my 20-month-old son! He's been saying words for several months but many of them he doesn't utter on a regular basis. He'll just say a word all of a sudden, very clearly, and you're surprised to hear him say it.

Of course his favorite words he's been saying all along ... eat, Momma and Daddy being probably the top three. He signs for a lot of things, milk being his favorite, first, and most used sign. He first signed for milk at five months. He also signs for eat and will sign for a lot of other things as well.

For the past month or so he's learned to babble so he'll talk that way, gesturing and all.

This past week he's actually been talking and saying words regularly. He'll get the ending sound right, use any vowel, and usually leave off the beginning sound. He has never used a word for milk before, but the past few days he's been saying "ilk," "ohk" and all manner of vowel combinations with the "k" sound at the end.

His verbal communication has always been fun for us as his older sisters were very articulate and profuse with their verbiage at a very early age. At 20 months they were both speaking in perfectly understandable paragraphs. But everyone is completely different. We are all having fun as he starts to speak and are as proud of him as if he were the first child to utter speech.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family ties

You gotta love the way kids understand family ties.

My older daughter and older niece were talking today and they mentioned the name of a little boy. We know a few kids by this name so I asked them who they were talking about. I figured it was their cousin but I asked anyway. My niece said, "Our COUSIN!"

The funny part about it is that he's related through at LEAST two marriages and he is not my niece's cousin and really isn't my children's cousin. But we don't make any difference about my children's cousins being or not being my niece's cousins, since they are always together and we are family, blood or not. My sisters are my niece's aunts and my children's cousins are their cousins; they call my parents (and grandma) the same things my children call them.

So anyway, here is how this little boy they were talking about is my niece's "cousin."

(I hope this makes sense.)

Child (my niece)
Mother (my SIL)
Brother (my DH)
Wife (me)
Sister (my sis)
Husband (my BIL)

So these two are cousins by way of child's mother's brother's wife's sister's husband's brother's child!!

But for all practical purposes they are cousins. And that's that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

House-selling update

Things have been moving very slowly (well, not really moving at all) on selling our house. We have less than a month on our realtor contract with no offers and very few showings. It's not the realtor's fault; the market is bad for sellers right now and since we have not paid on the house very long (less than three years) we cannot go extremely low on the price.

We got a few calls for house showings back in October when we all had the stomach virus, and I had to tell them we couldn't show. We got a couple of last-minute calls in November and I again had to say we couldn't show on 15 minutes notice (with the house upside down, of course, but I left that part out). It's my fault but because of the scarce showings I haven't kept the house in tip-top shape like it should be, and wasn't able to honor those requests for quick showings.

We're now in the holiday season and we expected the requests for house showings to be just like last year this time -- no requests. We actually got a call a little while ago for a showing early tomorrow afternoon.

Of course every room in the house needs a lot of attention so we're going to try to have the kids all spend the night elsewhere so I can focus on cleaning up and getting the place ready to show.

Beyond that we are in the process of filling out financial paperwork while we decide what to do and explore our options. There aren't many options left for us, and our financial situation will not allow us to continue to make payments on the house.

We'll just look on the bright side, knowing that someone will be looking at the house tomorrow. There will be an open house in the next few weeks with the possibility of a potential homeowner or two looking at it then.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm impressed!

My 10-year-old niece has once again impressed me. She normally impresses me with her head full of common sense, her practicality, helpfulness, dependability, her sweet nature, and the list goes on and on but this time it is with her academic skill and ability to work quickly.

I'm not just proud of her because I've been taking care of her since she was born. This child is just full of wonderful qualities and she REALLY helps me out on a daily basis with her good ideas, common sense, and trustworthiness. She has a few faults, just like anyone, but they are very predictable and I can usually head off most situations in her case. One of them is that she puts things off until the VERY LAST minute and that was one of the things she did in this situation but she totally redeemed herself.

She wrote a school report while laying in the bed two nights ago and then typed both of them up pretty quickly last night. It was due today and she had to write six paragraphs about a historical person and then six more paragraphs telling the history from that person's point of view. I didn't read the report before she typed it out and I was kind of afraid I was going to end up having to do the actual typing since she put it off to the very end. But I worried for NOTHING! The writing is EXCELLENT and the typing was also OUTSTANDING! When she finished typing it she came to me and said she was finished and pointed out that the only things underlined were her first name and a person in the report's last name.

I read over it and printed it out last night after she finished it. There were literally FOUR things I corrected: I took out a lot of spaces between the paragraphs to make each report fit on one page; I changed an "O" to an "I," I changed a "weather" to a "whether," I changed a "Martin Luther King Jr." to "Martin Luther" (didn't even notice that one until it was printed out) and this last one was so cute. The lady rebelled against her husband by not using his last name but instead of "surname" my niece typed "username." It was so cute. It was just a typo but "username" is a buzz word in Internet culture and among young people of course.

After I had it all printed out I was amazed at how good it looked and sounded with only those few corrections. She did all that herself. Then I had a flashback to the fifth grade of a big mess we had because of my teacher saying an adult had done some of my work. So I pointed out to my niece each thing I corrected so she would know in case her teacher asked. It's for her advanced class plus her teacher knows what she is capable of so I hope she isn't called into question. If she is she won't get upset (she can handle herself very well) but will be able to explain.

That's my brag for today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Allergy medicine for the babes

I hate medicine ... I hate medicine ... Oh, maybe it's not so bad!!

My son has terrible allergies, to what I'm not sure but he'll be tested around his second birthday. Whatever it is, he's allergic to the same things his big sister is allergic to, only worse.

His ped said give him Benadryl. He loves the chewable tablets and thinks they're candy but that's about all it is for him, just candy. It does no good. It does his big sister no good either.

So I told them the Benadryl doesn't work and they prescribed Claritin, or loratadine, the generic medicine. It's available OTC but we thought that since we have ARKids 1st (state funded Medicaid) it would be cheaper with a prescription. They gave him a 5mg syrup. (That's just great, he spits liquid meds right back in my face and dribbles them down his chin.)

Finally I got the prescription filled, and literally the day before he figured out how to use a sippy cup (no joke) so I decided to put 3-4 oz. of juice in the cup and his teaspoon of medicine in with it and give it to him. I was skeptical that he would even drink it and more skeptical that it would even work.

To my amazement, he drank it, and further to my amazement, IT WORKED!

His eyes are no longer red and itchy, his nose isn't running as much, and his cheeks and chin aren't red anymore. AND he's sleeping a bit better at night!

*happy dance*

I want to try this medicine with his sister too, since it has worked so well for my son. She has not ever been diagnosed with specific allergies, but it looks like she needs to be tested and treated as well.

I'd rather treat allergies without medicine but these kids really have us stumped. My daughter had eczema when she was a young child and she did not respond to the hydrocortizone that was prescribed for her. We just slogged through her first few years trying one thing after another until she finally grew out of it. My son did respond to the hydrocortizone at first but after a while it wasn't really doing anything, so now he is using something stronger for his eczema.

Now we have allergies to deal with in two kids, but I'm open to medicine if it makes their lives (and mine) easier.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A peaceful day

Today has been such a wonderfully peaceful and quiet day. We have had only one child at the house all day and have done nothing useful.

Some friends of ours called us and asked us to come have pizza with them at CiCi's last night, so we did. They wanted to take the girls home with them for the night and we were only too happy to let them go. They called today and wanted them to stay another night so we met them this evening with clothes and essentials for another night. Our other girls (our two nieces) have been with their mother all day since she is off both jobs on Saturdays.

There is tons of housework and yardwork to do but we've done nothing and it's been wonderful. My hubby has watched TV and napped for most of the day, and I've just puttered around the house trying to avoid doing anything useful. The baby has enjoyed himself immensely just playing by himself and playing with his dad.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Out sick

Our entire family is going through a round of stomach virus, etc.!

My oldest daughter threw up at school Thursday and had to come home. She was sick the rest of the day.

My son threw up all morning Saturday but was okay by mid-afternoon and played outside a lot.

I got sick Sunday evening and my hubby was about three hours behind me. After all the running to the bathroom subsided we laid in the bed all day yesterday and moaned and groaned and tried to take care of the baby.

We have one kid who hasn't gotten sick yet. She doesn't catch things easily but I am keeping my phone close by in case the school calls.

We are trying to keep away from our little diabetic child. This will land her in the hospital. Her sister doesn't get sick easily so that's good.

Hubby and I feel some better today, not good but a bit better than yesterday and the day before. He went back to work because he had to and I'm trying to get a few things done. I'm behind in my work but still on schedule. Laundry needs to be folded and the living room and kitchen are both a mess. Ugh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to school (after four days out)

The kids go back to school tomorrow after having been out since last Wednesday!

It's been a nice vacation for us and we've spent some great family time together.

Last Thursday was parent-teacher conference day at the school and I had all five of the kids. We walked/biked to the school for the conference that morning. Last Friday was my girls' dentist appointments. That evening my husband and I took the kids to see "Space Chimps" at the dollar theater. Yesterday our kids spent the afternoon at their auntie's house while my husband and I did a few errands by ourselves. Today one of our nieces spent the day with us.

The girls aren't quite ready to go back after their four-day break and I've enjoyed them being around. We'll get back into our routine tomorrow, getting up early and walking to school.

Starting tomorrow I'll have two more kids for a while in the afternoon, along with my three, of course, and my two nieces. A friend of mine had to change her work schedule because of her husband's job change and she's now working later in the afternoons. I'll be picking their kids up after school since their kids go to the same school as my kids. So that will make a grand total of seven kids in the afternoon ... my three, my two nieces, and my friend's two kids!

My friend's kids will go home around 5 p.m. and then my nieces go home after supper. It should be very interesting getting things coordinated!

The way we do things after school now is get snacks right away and then I sit down with each of the girls and go through their folders and look at their homework assignments. They get their homework done and then they go play outside, do arts and crafts, watch PBS, read, etc.

Back to school tomorrow ...

(That's me getting my mind ready)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Treat night!

Since the girls have excellent grades at school so far and since they did so well at the dentist yesterday, we took them out for a treat last night.

We went up to the dollar movie theater and saw "Space Chimps" again! (We saw it last Saturday night there as well.) There were three movies showing that are appropriate for children (Kit Kittrell, rated G, and Kung Fu Panda, rated PG are the other two) but the Space Chimps starting time was first.

We loved it last night just like we loved it last weekend.

I'd like to take them to see the other two movies while they are still in the dollar movie theater.

Speaking of movies, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" comes out in November! We loved "Madagascar" and went to see it twice (I think) in the dollar movies. We bought it on DVD too and watch it often. I can't wait for the second one to come to the dollar movies.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back to the dentist!

The girls went back to the dentist today for their fillings and caps, and they both did wonderfully. They went on Monday for cleanings and exams and were scheduled for the actual work today. I knew my older daughter needed her caps replaced on two top teeth (the ones behind the vampire teeth, the caps fell off some time ago) but I didn't think they'd need as many fillings as they did! But the fillings were all in baby teeth so I guess we get another chance to keep their teeth healthy.

The girls saw two different dentists but one was wrapping up while the other was just getting started. It didn't take very long, though. We spent more time waiting than anything else. The older girl got her two caps replaced and two or three fillings done. The younger girl got six (yes I said six) fillings done. I joked and said I didn't even know she had six teeth! They were both very good and did only a minimal amount of whimpering in the chair and complaining after they were finished. Both dentists bragged on how good they did; the older girl's dental assistant said my daughter was the Patient of the Day.

I didn't stay with them during the procedures, mostly because of waiting with the other one. When we took the first one into the room the dentist wanted me to take the other girl out because she didn't want her to see the procedures. I went ahead and left but mainly because the second girl was going to have to go into another room anyway. When the second one got in the chair the first one was finished and she looked rather pitiful so I went with her and helped her get her toys out of the dispenser.

They were back to normal in no time and eating a couple of hours afterward.

The baby stayed with his aunt and two cousins while we were gone since I figured we'd be there all afternoon and it would be hard to keep him occupied and distracted from all the fascinating dental equipment.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parent-teacher conference

The girls got excellent reports during the parent-teacher conference today. They received their first mid-term grades today, with lots of As and several 100s. We are proud of them and are going to treat them to something special this weekend.

This school district has changed up how they do the parent-teacher conference every year we have been here. The first year they dismissed school an hour early every day for an entire week and scheduled conferences for the rest of the afternoon. Last year they didn't let school out early at all. They just started the conferences as soon as school was dismissed at regular time each day for a week. This year they let school out for an entire day, and scheduled conferences all day long on that one day.

That left me with five kids for the day today. Since we're in a walking mood, we walked/skated/biked to school for the conferences with my two girls' teachers. (The other two girls' mother did phone conferences with their teachers.) While we were there the kids gave out hugs and played inside my daughter's first grade classroom and outside.

Both of the girls' teachers said the girls are doing very well and showed me their mid-term grades to prove it.

My nine-year-old daughter has all As as usual, and even a 100 in spelling so far. She has an A in math, which she normally does, but this is the subject she struggles with. She will be able to keep these grades up and be on the all A honor roll for the first grading period. Her grades will probably go down a couple of points or so as the year goes on and the subject matter gets harder. Besides math the thing she has to work on across the board is paying attention to what she is doing. Sometimes she misses questions, not because she didn't know the answer, but because she didn't see it or didn't pay attention to the directions. We always have to work on that with her.

My six-year-old daughter has a very impressive 106 in math and 100s in social studies and spelling. She has As in reading and handwriting, although I'd like to see the handwriting point grade come up. There is some room for improvement in the language arts grade, but it will be very simple to help her. In fact, I've already seen some improvement in her skills this very day. They are working on sentence structure right now. My daughter has a precious thought pattern but needs to work on constructing her sentences properly. Here's all that means for now: a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and no other capital letters in the sentence, spaces between the words, and a period at the end of the sentence. (See, I said that was simple!) She did beautifully on copying some phrases tonight. The wording she was copying was in all capital letters, and with two or three reminders she was able to properly copy the phrases, even changing the all capital letters to uppercase and lowercase on her own. Ir was very proud of her. We'll continue to work on writing each day and she'll have that grade up to an A in no time. That will help her handwriting grade too.

Their behavior in school is excellent as well. Their school has a points system. Each child starts out with five points and for certain infractions they lose a point. Throughout the school year my girls usually get three, four, or five "fours," which I think is very good. Nobody's perfect. My older daughter did get two fours in one week last year, and I got on her case pretty hard about that.

There are rewards at the school for honor roll and good behavior, and we usually have rewards at home too. My husband and sister-in-law gave them a nice party once last year. We are looking forward to a nice treat this weekend for all the good mid-term grades we got today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Walking to school (and back home)

The girls kept bugging me about letting them walk to school so finally I gave in, halfway at least. The baby and I have been walking them to school this week, and then going back up to the school in the afternoons to walk them back home.

They want to do it on their own but I just can't agree to that right now.

It's about a five block walk, but it's not straight blocks. There are lots of turns and the street at the end of our street is a busy one (with double yellow lines). There is another really busy street near the school but there is a crossing guard there, so that's nothing to worry about. They can make it on their own but it's the other people you have to worry about, along with the distance. For now I'll just walk them there and back, or at least until it gets too cold.

It takes 12-15 minutes to make the walk
. It doesn't seem like it should take that long but it does. We walk at a rather quick pace in the mornings but we take our time getting home. That could take almost as long as 20 minutes! We all really enjoy it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Teacher's pet

My fourth grade daughter is the teacher's pet this week! Everyone gets to take a turn at being teacher's pet. For an entire week, the teacher's pet leads the line, delivers notes and papers to the office, and any and everything else the teacher needs her (or him) to do.

The teacher's pet puts together a bulletin board about herself (or himself) on Monday morning so that everyone gets to know her (or him) well. The teacher's pet brings photos, awards, certificates, etc. for the board.

We looked through old (and not so old) photos last night and found a lot of good ones to send to school. Here's one of the adorable old photos we found, taken the day she turned one. They loved looking at the old photos so we'll do it again tonight!

She also took her behavior awards from kindergarten and first grade at her old school.

The teacher's pet can also bring a pet to school. The only pet my daughter has is her little brother, so he is going to school to be her pet for a while on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

My girls are now mistresses of the domestic arts. Here is the nine-year-old at the sewing machine for the first time today and the six-year-old at the sink.

New mistresses of the domestic arts

My girls are now mistresses of the domestic arts. Sewing and washing dishes, anyway.

The younger child is actually an old pro at washing the dishes. Nobody gets dishes cleaner than she does. That's probably because she's naturally slow and thorough with everything she does.

My older daughter really surprised me at the sewing machine today. I was stitching around some old towels on the sewing machine at my mom's house today. She wanted to help me and since it ws just kitchen towels I figured it couldn't hurt. I started her off and showed her how to do it, and she took off! After one towel she didn't even need me to stand there anymore. I was very impressed!

Friday, September 05, 2008

First "big boy" haircut

My 16-month-old son got his first "big boy" haircut yesterday!

It wasn't something I was planning on doing, though. It was a "have-to" thing.

Here's what happened (the long version): He was asleep when it was time for the girls to go to school yesterday morning and his dad was home, so I left the two of them together and took the girls to school. As soon as I walked back in the door I noticed my son's hair looked lopsided, but didn't think much of it because he's got crazy hair and it was getting to be time for a haircut.

Upon closer examination a few minutes later I realized his hair had been cut! It was taken out almost down to the scalp in a V-shape on the top of his head. I immediately blamed it on my six-year-old daughter. She is always messing with his head and she has cut her own hair two times before. I decided to leave it until after school because I wanted her to see it and I wanted a full confession. I did look for clumps of hair and a pair of scissors; I found two locks on the floor in my bedroom but didn't find a pair of scissors that I thought had been used.

When the girls got home from school I asked my daughter if she had anything to say about her brother's hair. She looked at him and said, "It's been cut!" I knew by the tone of her voice that she had not done it! That left only him and maybe his five-year-old cousin, but I thought it had been done that morning and she had not seen him that morning. I called my husband to see if he knew anything about it and he didn't. He did tell me though, that the baby had gotten up out of the bed and came down the stairs on his own that morning. (He had done the same thing after naptime before I knew he had done it that morning.)

He had cut it himself! He had gotten up out of the bed, gave himself a haircut, and then come downstairs, all fresh and groomed for the new day!

I had to cut the rest of his hair, and I had to cut it very short. I dreaded doing it. He has had a couple of good trims and a few snips, but not a big haircut. I sat him up on the ledge of the sink with his feet in the sink and the water on. I knew he would play in the water and let me cut his hair. He did. I felt like I was hacking it off with a knife but I did manage to get it looking halfway decent. I see now why little boys wear their hair kind of long sometimes. They are too little to be still long enough to get a good cut. Plus it's cuter longer when they are little.

It's too short. I don't like it. I miss his curls. But it's hair, and it grows quickly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The words of a child

My six-year-old first grader wrote me this note at school the other day:

My baby Brothr SLOBS on my stoF I bo not no wy Bot He DOS AND He is my LiDOL Brothr

to: Mothr From ****

(She wrote this pretty much as one word but I put the word spaces in there.)

Translation: My baby brother slobbers on my stuff I do not know why but he does and he is my little brother.

Today for homework she had to write her spelling words and then write a sentence using each word. I helped her with ideas for sentences on the first three words and then she did the rest completely on her own.

blot: my mohtr blotid spiLt melc
My mother blotted spilled milk.

plot: I hAV A GrDiN plot
I have a garden plot.

clap: if you claP AND my Brohtr is SLiPiNG you wiL wAk him
If you clap and my brother is sleeping you will wake him. (So cute because her sister loves to clap and make other unecessary repetitive noises.)

flap: flaP yor wiNGS AND fli uwa
Flap your wings and fly away.

slip: YOU WiL SLiP on wet flow
You will slip on the wet floor.

glad: I AM GLAD YOU r her
I am glad you are here.

(Again I put the word spaces in for her.)

I just think her thought pattern is so cute.
Long weekend over

Our long anniversary weekend is over and everyone is back to school and work. I kind of miss everyone but on the other hand I'm so glad to get back to normal and I'm loving this quiet.

It's a rainy day today as we're getting the tail end of Hurricane Gustav. It's breezy and raining steadily but not too hard. I think I'll hurry up and get my work done so I can sit on the couch with the baby and enjoy the weather.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy anniversary to us!

This weekend is our anniversary weekend!

On Saturday (Aug. 30) we were together 13 years, and today, Sunday (Aug. 31) we were married 12 years.

My husband took off work Friday and he's off on Monday for the holiday. (We got married on Labor Day weekend for that purpose!) He was off for three days in a row and we had a really nice time.

Our big day was Saturday afternoon. My sister and her husband came for the weekend, and they kept the girls. They all went up to my parents' house for the afternoon. The baby went to spend the evening with my sister-in-law, his favorite girl (besides me).

While my husband went to take the baby to his sister's house for the evening I had a spa afternoon! The main part of it was a good haircut, something I haven't had in a long time.

When he got back we went to eat at Olive Garden. We set out for Carino's actually but they were too full and so was our second choice, Applebee's.

We left there full and laden down with to-go boxes, and headed for downtown. We parked at the trolley barn and waited for a trolley ride, but the trolley was taking too long so we just walked to our destination ... the ball park! We went to a minor league baseball game, the farm team for the Angels. It was nice because it's something we rarely do, plus the night was perfect. It was just the right temperature with even a little breeze. The nice weather came from the park sitting right on the banks of the Arkansas River.

We left the game around 9 p.m. and decided to catch the trolley back to the car. We took a trolley tour and close to an hour later got off right at our vehicle.

We didn't do anything special today, our wedding anniversary day, except for spend the day together, which is always special. We plan to do pretty much nothing tomorrow too.

There was no big vacation this year but the best part of a vacation is just spending days on end together anyway. We get to do that until Tuesday. Yipee!!


Now for a bit of sap. Just skip this part.

We've known each other for years, since around 1979. He liked me when we were teenagers/young adults, but I always thought he was weird. But there was always something very special about him. Anyway, he asked me to go out with him in 1994 and I said no after thinking about it for two weeks. I did leave the impression that I would want him to ask me again, and finally he did, about a year later. By that time I had started to see him in a different light and I really liked what I saw. On Aug. 30, 1995 he asked me to date him and I was delighted to say yes. On Jan. 12, 1996, he asked me to marry him and again I was delighted to say yes. Our wedding on Aug. 31, 1996 was wonderful and the days, months and years just get better.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

House for sale update

There isn't much to report on the house for sale front. We had a few showings right at first but then they tapered off. My daughter said it's because I keep trying to keep the house clean. She said if I'd just let it go for a while then we'll get a call about a showing in a few hours!

With the short sale option a possibility after we've had the house up for sale for three months coupled with the fact that we overhauled the budget with some immediate success, we aren't overly worried about it.

We'll just take things as they come!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School drop-off lanes

I thought that school drop-off lanes were pretty easy to use and fairly self explanatory, but evidently not.

Why must some people park their vehicles right in the drop-off lane and then go inside the school with their kids?

Doesn't common sense dictate that you park somewhere else other than the drop-off lane so that your car won't be in other people's way? Maybe in the designated parking areas?

Okay, this is the first year that we've regularly used the drop-off/pick-up lane at this school but I've used it on numerous occasions during the past two years. I don't think I missed the thick manual that they released on how to use this lane. It can't be just me.

This morning a woman pulls up right in front of the school, parks her car in the drop-off lane, piles out with all of her kids and goes in the school with them. One of the kids is a pre-k student (no uniform) so she had to go all the way in the school and to the classroom to sign that child in. YOU PARK IN THE PARKING SPACES FOR THAT, NOT STOP IN THE DROP-OFF LANE! The parents who are dropping off/picking up pre-k students are actually supposed to pull up and park at the back of the building rather than block the drop-off lane in the front.

There's no one out there directing traffic in the mornings but it's a very small school and honestly, it's not that hard to understand how to do things.

People are just as inconsiderate in the afternoons. There is a line formed in front of the school and when you get up to the school they assist your children into your car. It is very orderly and safe. But you have your people who get tired of waiting and get out and go into the school to check their kids out. In the meantime everyone else in the line has to drive around their car.

One day this guy in front of me WOULD NOT drive up. It was his turn to drive up in front of the school so they could get his kids in his vehicle. Evidently he saw his kids and he was waiting for them to come get in the truck and he wasn't about to move. But it doesn't work that way. You move your vehicle up and the people in the four or so cars directly in front of the school get their kids. Then they move and you move up and get your kids. You don't just get them when you see them and they DO NOT run out to the cars when they see their parents.

It's aggravating that some people are so self-absorbed that they can't figure out how to use the drop-off lane and they can't grasp that they aren't the only ones using it. How hard could it really be to park in the designated parking area?

I'm really getting tired of it as there seems to be an instance every day. I believe I'm going to go back to using the back of the school for drop-offs/pick-ups. There isn't a lane back there, you just pull up, park, and do what you have to do. You don't block anybody if you get out, and it's actually a lot less frustrating. We have used the back for the last two years because of having pre-k students to sign in and out. We don't have any this year but I believe I'm going to keep doing like I was doing anyway.

Monday, August 18, 2008

School starts today!

The kids are all back in school today! Yipee!

They were so excited about getting back to school, and I was too. It's been a long, overwhelming summer but then again it seemed like school starting back sneaked up on us!

We did our school supply shopping at Target late last week and learned a valuable lesson ... local stores don't order enough see-through (clear or mesh) backpacks so you have to buy them as soon as they put them out. I saw some really cute pink mesh ones with brown floral detailing at Fred's last week but when I went back a few days later to get them there was not one to be had. They took their backpacks from last year to school today and chances are they'll have to use them again this year.

I still want to get some lunch bags for them since I let them take their lunches sometimes. I'm going back to Target to get those later this week.

They were all fine with their uniform clothes from last year.

Hooray for school!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Time to go back to school (almost)

Summer break is almost over.

Thank goodness!

Oh no! Where did the time go?

I'm greeting the end of summer break with mixed feelings.

I'm mostly feeling relief. This summer has been long, tiring, stressful, frustrating, and nerve-wracking. I kind of dreaded the start of summer, but it's inevitable so I entertained positive thoughts. I made plans to work the first few days of the week and then take all the kids on a “field trip” at the end of the week every week. We even made a list of places we wanted to go, all free places right in the area.

We started off behind our “field trip” schedule. We didn't get to make our fun trip the first week or the second. Things just seemed to get steadily worse as I struggled to care for five children (including a diabetic and a one-year-old), work, and do everything else that life requires.

I didn't make any adjustments but just kept trying to plod through everything without exploding. Finally my younger sister suggested I rearrange my work schedule, spreading my work out more evenly over the entire week and better utilizing times when I had fewer children around. I immediately put her suggestions in action and they worked!

I felt much more in control of the routine, but by then most of the summer was gone and I didn't feel like my kids had much of a fun summer. I feel kind of bad for looking forward to the start of school when the kids haven't had much fun. It could be that I'm just being too hard on myself and expecting too much. Whatever the feelings, I can't go back and redo the summer and the fact is, school starts in a week. It'll be time to rearrange the routine, again, just after I finally got it to a workable point.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kids gone for the weekend

All of the kids except for the baby are gone for the weekend!

One of my niece's is at her father's house for the weekend and the other three girls went to their grandmother's for the night last night. All four of them will be back tonight.

We are just going to take it easy in the meantime. I'm going to catch up on work and housework and make a short run to the grocery store. My husband is in sore need of catching up on his rest and sleep.

For right now we are sitting out on the front porch watching the baby romp around and listening to the sound of lightly-falling rain. So peaceful.

Friday, August 08, 2008

House for sale!

Things are moving along as planned with the “house for sale” arrangement. We've had a few showings but no offers so far.

A few days after we put it back on the market, we got a call at 6:15 p.m. for a last minute showing that evening. I had ducked out for a while, my husband had just laid the baby down for a nap, and the house was most certainly not show-worthy. (I hadn't done my all-night clean-up that I was planning.) He turned them down, mostly because of the baby being asleep. Needless to say, I spent the next several hours (on until the next day) getting the house ready to show.

We went a week and a half without a showing, and then I got a call at 1:30 p.m. earlier this week. I looked around at my five-kids-have-been-here surroundings and hoped for something other than a last-minute showing or even one in an hour. Thankfully, the showing was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. that evening, giving me plenty of time to clean and place things in their proper places.

Another call came yesterday at 3:15 p.m. asking for a 3:30 p.m. showing. I asked if they could push it back to 3:45 p.m. or 4 p.m., and they agreed to 3:45 p.m. We all jumped up and started putting things away. I didn't get a chance to vacuum but the house was neat and clean when we left.

I have a rule when we have our house up for sale: it must be no messier than what we can clean up in less than an hour. The last time we had it up for sale we got a lot of calls scheduling a showing in one hour.

The funny thing is, before I got the call for both of these showings this week I looked around at the house and thought that I needed to go ahead and straighten up. I need to start listening to myself!

We are just taking it one day at a time, not making any other plans for housing right now because we know a sale may or may not happen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Round two ...

It was only a matter of time and now, time is here.

Our house is going back up for sale this evening.

We were in quite a bit of a financial jam this time last summer and ended up putting our house up for sale. We left it on the market for the entire contract of six months, but did not sell it, obviously. We had some interest and some offers but none that we could accept. They were quite a bit lower than our asking price and we couldn't go very low and stay in the black, which was the goal.

The sale of our other house plus our income tax refund last spring bailed us out of the jam and so when the realtor's contract expired we didn't renew. We knew that we would come to this point again and felt deep down that we should keep the house on the market, but frankly, we were tired.

We have come to the realization that not being able to make our mortgage payment is more of a permanent situation than a temporary one. In light of that we must make another valiant effort to reduce our monthly housing expenses, and we start by selling our current house.

The housing market is no better, probably worse. But we must give it another try. I did discover an interesting and very helpful piece of information today in talking with the mortgage company. No one shared this with us before because we evidently didn't ask the right questions, and a mortgage company or a realtor isn't going to volunteer this information because no one makes money like this. There is something called a short sale that can be done when you cannot make your mortgage payments and must sell your home, but cannot get the value of the loan. Your realtor submits some paperwork to the mortgage company and you submit some detailing the family's income and expenses. The mortgage company may or may not approve the sale for less than the value of your loan and your debt will be considered paid in full.

Now, this information, as helpful as it is, would have been more helpful last spring. We had a very interested buyer who made us a sincere offer, but it was a few thousand dollars less than what we owed on the house. We couldn't come up with the difference since we had just forked over quite a bit to prevent foreclosure (another lesson we learned last summer) so we had to pass on the offer. If we had known about this short sale option, we would have most certainly tried to get that approved.

Maybe this time we can stash this information away and use it if we must.

I didn't expect the house to go up for sale so soon and now I have all manner of cleaning to do. My husband called our realtor yesterday and they set up an appointment for this evening. He'll be coming by with paperwork and a sign for the yard.

We'll be going back to living in a bare bones house and a lot of hurried house cleanings for showings. It's not easy living in a house you are trying to sell when you have five kids in the house all day long every day!

We are hoping that we can sell the house and find other, less expensive, quarters. Things won't be any easier on us financially but we would like to at least be able to meet our bills each month. We've pared down to about as little as we can expense-wise and no one is able to take on any more work. My husband is already working two jobs and I am doing the best I can with mine.

We may have some changes on the horizon soon!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Again ...

We are getting ready to put our house up for sale, again. We had it for sale from August to February of this year and took it off the market after our contract with the realtor expired. We had some offers but we couldn't go as low as the offers and still come out in the black.

We could have either renewed with the realtor or put our own sign out in the yard and kept it on the market, but frankly, we were tired. We were able to get ourselves out of the fix we had been in, albeit temporary and we knew that. Reality is hitting and before it gets too bad, it is time to try to sell the house again.

It's not something we want to do, not something we wanted to do before, but it's getting to be a bit much and there's not any real relief ahead.

I'm running some lists of a few minor improvements we need to make to the interior of the house through my mind right now, and will post them in a day or two. I also have to make lists of what I need to do to each room to make it presentable, and then there are the lists of things to do to the house before each showing. I still have the showing lists and will post it later on when we actually get the house back on the market.

Now the memories of getting the house in order for a showing, four kids ready for school (well, two actually come ready), and all of them plus a baby out of the door by 7:30 a.m. headed to school are coming back to me. Not that I could forget them!

Friday, July 11, 2008

New house in the family

My sister-in-law finally got tired of crazy neighbors, nutty office people, AND her rent going up so she is moving out of her apartment in to a house! She started the move today and will have it completed the first of next week.

It's a great house, much bigger than her apartment and is the same price per month as her apartment. She really likes it and the kids do too.

They are still about the same distance away from us as they were (five minutes maybe) and in the same part of town.

The house has a huge kitchen, a good-sized living room, a bathroom, and two bedrooms. There are big closets everywhere and a laundry/storage room to die for. She's also got an outside storage shed/garage and a nice backyard. The area is right beside the interstate but it is quiet without a lot of traffic and people walking up and down the streets.

It's got us to thinking about trying to sell our house again to find cheaper living quarters. We love our house but the payments are consistently too much to handle these days with no change in sight. The last time we tried to sell our house we couldn't go low enough on the price to get rid of it because we hadn't been there long enough to pay all that much on it. We have briefly discussed either getting our same realtor back or putting it up for sale by owner.

Provided we can sell it, we are much more familiar with the area now to know where to look for quality but economical housing, and we have a sister/SIL who is obviously wonderful at it who we can get to help us! ;)

In the meantime the girls are going to enjoy riding their bikes around out in the new backyard. It's flat and so is the road behind the house!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Nine years ago on this day ...

My first child was born.

It's hard to believe that I have a child who is nine years old and that I've been a mom for nine years.

Those first couple of years with her were really rough but she mellows out with each passing year.

Now of course she has a six-year-old sister and a 14-month-old brother!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nine years ago today ...

I was at the end of my first pregnancy and ready to have my first child! My due date (the day before, July 7) had come and gone with me lying on the couch to prevent another blood pressure spike like the one I had experienced two days ago, on July 6.

At 4 a.m. on the morning of July 8, my water broke! How exciting! I went back to sleep for another couple of hours and then got in trouble with my husband when I told him two hours later. We got ready to go and headed to the hospital an hour away. We stopped to help some stranded motorists on the way, a story that is funny now but back then seemed perfectly normal. I wasn't having any contractions and my husband always stops to help people on the side of the road.

The day progressed slowly at the hospital and finally at about 7 p.m. the doctor and my mom thought it might be best for me to receive a small amount of Pitocin. This would stimulate my contractions and get things progressing, which really needed to happen seeing that my water had already broken. I was very hesitant but I trusted the doctor and even more so, my mom.

Boy, did things ever get going. That was a really long and painful labor but that child still wasn't born nine years ago today. She was born nine years ago TOMORROW! She was born at 12:41 a.m. on July 9.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Before I was a Mom

(This was on one of my favorite message boards and I just love it.)

Before I was a Mom

Before I was a Mom
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby,
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous,
and I never thought about immunizations,

Before I was a Mom I had never been
puked on
pooped on
chewed on
peed on
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts
and I slept all night

Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests
or give shots,
I never looked into teary eyes and cried,
I never got gloriously happy over a simple smile,
and I never sat up all night watching a baby sleep

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to
put them down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I
couldn't stop the hurt,
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much,
I never knew that I could love something so much,
and I never knew I would love being a Mom

Before I was a Mom
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body,
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby,
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child,
and I didn't know something so small could make me feel so
important and happy

Before I was a Mom
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to
make sure all was okay
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the
wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom

Most of all I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Another ear infection (Saturday morning doctor run)

The baby has another ear infection, the doctor has just declared this Saturday morning.

This is the third one he's been diagnosed with in his short 14-month-old life.

He's to take an antibiotic for 10 days, ear drops for pain a few times a day, saline and vapor rub for stuffy nose. The doctor made all of that sound so very easy to administer. I think I'll call him when it's time for the medicine fight. ;)

I'm not really surprised with this trouble (ear infections, etc.) When he was born I had the feeling that he'd have allergies and eczema, and I started looking for them right away. Sure enough, they happened.

His eczema was officially diagnosed at five months of age. He uses a one-percent hydrocortisone cream and lots and lots of petroleum jelly for that!

Looks like we are going to have lots of trouble for the next few years. One of his older sisters had eczema (she grew out of it thankfully) but still has allergies.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So cute!

The baby signed "I love you" to his dad last night! It was so cute and unexpected. He was waving "good night" to his dad when I put up the "I love you" sign and he actually copied it! He held his middle finger down with his thumb, which is really quite similar to how his six-year-old sister signs it!

He knows several signs — Momma, milk, more being the main ones — but very rarely uses them. He also knows how to say a lot of words but again he rarely speaks. When he does, it is usually a word he hasn't said before and it's very clear. He just prefers to communicate in "caveman." As you can imagine that involves a lot of grunting, screaming, and hitting.
Recipe collection (more cooking in store)

Since I was griping and whining about all the cooking that I am now doing on a daily basis in my previous post, I thought I'd point out that I'm keeping an online recipe collection/blog called I Hate the Kitchen. (Yes, I really do hate the kitchen.)

It's got a lot of really easy recipes that I've either made up, have tried, or am planning to try in the near future.

This is working out better than my paper collection, and I do use the term "collection" very loosely.

I've also subscribed to a daily newsletter from All Recipes that has good ideas.

Posting on the Internet does seem to make the daily dreaded chore of cooking a thousand times (okay, it's only three but it seems like a whole lot more) slightly more pleasant.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Summer break (is it over yet?)

This morning I was hit with a stunning revelation as I woke up. It was both good news and bad news, but mostly bad.

Being as it was the first day of July, that meant that I had survived ONE WHOLE MONTH of summer break. That's the good news.

But there is another MONTH and a HALF of summer break left. That is the bad, awful, terrible news.

I have felt terribly overwhelmed this summer, especially on Mondays. My husband has been home on the weekend and so has helped with all the kids. (By all the kids I mean our three and our two nieces.) I'm left by myself with all of them on Mondays so I guess I struggle to get back into the swing of things at the beginning of each week.

I feel like I've been blindsided by the constant cooking, sweeping, fighting, somersaulting, mess-making, more cooking, and more sweeping that goes on continually and my inability to control any of it.

The funny thing is, I'm surprised by these feelings I'm having because I had planned on a very nice summer with the kids. I had planned two or three workdays for myself (Monday-Wednesday, of course very flexible) during which time they would do quiet activities around the house and play outside. We'd take one of the last days of the week and do a fun "field trip." We made a list of fun (and free!) things we could do around town and all looked forward to doing our activities.

We got off to a late start on our trips, sad to say, and still haven't caught up. I do feel like I'm getting a little work done, although the house looks like a tornado tore through every single day.

This summer has been a disappointment for me for all of those reasons and because last summer was so nice. I made my mind up last summer that it was just going to be awful, what with three more kids than normal to take care of all day long (the new baby plus my two nieces had just moved over by us). I made plans for friends to drop their kids off at our house, and the kids had fun with their friends right here. It worked wonderfully. We also did some visiting ourselves on the weekends when my husband was around.

So I figured if last summer turned out nicely then this summer surely would. How wrong I was. I just don't seem to be able to get a handle on everything going on.

Every day is just a big mess of cooking breakfast, cleaning up from that, trying to do a few minutes of work, cooking lunch and cleaning up from that, trying to work awhile and clean up the house before figuring out what to cook for supper. In the meantime I'm sweeping the floor 10 times, wiping up spills, dealing with all manner of whining, crying, tattling and tending to the baby. I'm tired of it. I don't have the energy to think much about our field trips or even my errands I need to run.

I've been trying to get the kids to help me clean up and take care of the baby but sometimes it's so much trouble. I expend more energy trying to get them to help me than I would if I just did it myself.

Well, to be fair I know that most people deal with a lot more than this every day, and there are some things I could do to make things easier on myself.

But honestly I am not looking forward to the rest of the summer. I know that's awful but it's the truth. *sigh*

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Free labor (not really that free)

Here's my little son, willingly sweeping the floor. He likes the Swiffer too.

His sisters are not as willing to help with housework, but I just announced to them that they must participate. They are folding towels right now and are going to have the laundry presented to them for folding all week, I'm afraid. Between trying to work and take care of them and cook and clean and ... well, I just don't have the time to do everything that needs to be done.

Although right now I expend more energy trying to get them to complete a task than I would if I just did it myself, they need to know how to do housework and I need the help.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Big day (or two) of fun

My kids had a big day (really two) of fun last week. We started off the day with a trip to the humane society for a new program they have called "Smarty Cats." It involves reading to their cats, of all things. When I heard about it I thought it was so crazy and I just had to submit the idea for a story. It was approved so off we went to read to the cats. Just as I expected, cats are not very good listeners but the girls had fun playing with them anyway.

After playing with the cats we went down to a worm farm to check that out for a story. We found out how to run a worm farm and we also saw his day lilies, organic garden, and a pond that the man built himself. The girls had great fun looking at the goldfish in the little pond.

That night we took them out to the river to see a screening of "Happy Feet." They show movies for free every Wednesday night in the summer on a huge screen right on the river. The movie was stupid to me but the kids liked it.

They walked over a new bridge after the movie and then all the girls went home together to my husband's sister's house. Oh boy, a slumber party for them, and some peace and quiet for us!

After everyone finally woke up and got around the next day, the kids and their auntie/mom went to the store for picnic stuff (I ran into them there and ended up with two of them) and then everyone came back to our house for a back porch picnic. They followed that up with a dip in the new pool their auntie/mom got for them.

Wow, now that was a lot of fun packed into two days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby's walking!

The baby, who is now 13½ months old, started walking this past Sunday! We were all sitting around dressed waiting on time to go when he just started toddling around. He's been working on getting ready to walk for some time now and this past Sunday afternoon he was finally ready!

He's so cute because he holds his arms up and out and plods like a zombie. Now he's even more destructive than ever with the new world that walking opens up to him.

He's been able to climb up the stairs for some time now, but with him being able to walk we have to put the gate up at the bottom of the stairs if he's downstairs and at the top of the stairs if he's upstairs. He was walking around upstairs yesterday and got frighteningly close to the stairs. His balance is still a tad off, of course, and it would take nothing for him to topple down the stairs.

It's really neat to see him walking around and the entire family is getting a huge kick out of it!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

First comes love ...

Then comes marriage. And then, along with your guy with a baby carriage, is the problem of how to stay that way. Married, that is.

Here's a little something I wrote earlier this year. It pertains to marriage but of course living the mom life usually requires living the wife life!

Top Ten Ways to Have a Long Marriage
By Michelle Wallace

(My David Letterman-style list)

10. Learn to love your father-in-law's face. Your husband will look just like that in a few years.

9. Be sweet to his mother. She knows what's really going on but he's just happy the two women in his life love each other so much.

8. Just accept the fact that his friends are weird and there's nothing you can do about it.

7. Don't argue about money. It's pointless to argue about something that doesn't exist.

6. Pick up his dirty socks and underwear. He certainly doesn't care that they are lying there stinking up the place.

5. Speaking of cleaning, if he cleans, that's just wonderful. If he doesn't, you do it since you're the only one who's bothered by all the junk anyway.

4. Don't talk during the ballgame.

3. Have lots of ***.

2. Since you're having lots of ***, there'll probably be lots of babies. Because of that, you can't ever get away from him anyway so you may as well stay married.

And the #1 way to have a long marriage ...


Friday, June 06, 2008

First week of summer break is over!

Whew, the first week of summer break is finally over. That was one long, hard week. I'm already looking forward to school starting back.

In honor of getting through the first week of summer break, my husband took me on a date tonight! Before he got off work he asked his sister to take all the kids (the baby included) and told me to decide where I wanted to go to eat. All the kids went home with my sister-in-law when she got off work. Everyone was excited about going roller-skating and bike-riding in the park.

I had planned on spending the evening in front of the TV watching back-to-back episodes of my favorite show, "What Not to Wear," but since I'd been given other instructions, I put on a nice outfit and some makeup. I couldn't decide where I wanted to eat but developed a taste for shrimp and alfredo pasta somewhere along the afternoon.

After my husband got home we hopped in the vehicle and headed out to the "restaurant strip" in town. I suggested Carino's but didn't really care, so we decided on Applebee's because the parking lot was not as full as Carino's.

Afterward we went to Best Buy to buy an Ethernet card for the desktop and went home! We made it home just in time for the start of an episode of "What Not to Wear." Not very romantic, I know!

The kids were still skating so their auntie brought them home when they finished. Our two girls were really excited because their auntie had just bought them some new skates! That gives us something else to do this summer ... go skating in the park some and even go to the skating rink.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer reading program at the library

The girls are excited about getting started in the summer reading program today at the local library. Registration begins today, but I registered my older daughter online this past weekend with her library card. We're heading up to the library this afternoon and will get my older niece a library card. We'll enroll the two older girls along with the two younger girls and check out some books for everyone, too.

We got a jump start on checking out the books this past weekend. My older daughter got bored and asked to read some of my books, so we dashed up to the library to check out some books. I told her to pick out three or four thick books, so maybe that will keep her occupied for a while.That also gets her set up to start reading for the summer reading program!

Everyone who enrolls in the summer reading program gets a bag, a button, a pencil and a reading log to record the number of books they read! My older daughter will have a good time writing down all the books she'll be reading. They can also report online or call the library once a day with the number of chapters they've read.

They'll get a sticker (displayed on a sheet at the library) for every three chapters they read, or for each book a younger child has read to them. There are special incentives in store every week for the kids who report the number of chapters they've read! I'm expecting the two older girls to stay busy with their reading and reporting of chapters to the library every day or pretty much every day.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kids' websites

Summer break is now upon us and my kids will be having to spend some of their time quietly indoors while I work. They'll be busy reading, watching TV, helping me with the baby, playing school, doing crafts, and playing on the Internet.

I'm on the lookout for some good kids' sites for playing games, doing crafts, printing worksheets, etc.

Here are some sites we love: (their favorite) (my favorite)

And a few new ones I want to check out ...

There is a wonderful list of kids' sites at Mommy Jobs, my favorite Work at Home Mother site, that we will be making use of as well.

Now that I have a laptop along with the desktop I can work on one and let the kids have the other for playing games or getting on the Internet.

What are some of your favorite sites?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Glad that's over (well, sort of)

These last two weeks have been exhausting as I've been constantly on the go end-of-the-school-year activities, appointments for the kids, and my normal three-times-daily trips to the school for drop-offs, pick-ups, and to tend to my niece's meals/insulin shots.

The kids' last day was yesterday, and I'm glad the running back and forth is over. The official last day of school will be Monday, but I think I might oversleep that day! ;-)

of course the end of school doesn't mean there's any time to rest! It means I'll have five kids (my three all the time and my two nieces when their mother is at work) to care for, feed, entertain, etc. five days a week!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reading together

We've always loved reading with our kids. Our eight-year-old third grader now devours books like I used to, and our six-year-old kindergarten child is doing very well. For a class assignment this year she has written down all the books she's read each month. Her list is usually pretty long. All the students who have read 10 or more books for the month get a prize, and she has always gotten a prize. This month her list is not as long but each book title has several marks beside it, because we've read the same ones over and over to her!

We are going to get them signed up for the summer reading program at the library next week, so that's exciting.

Here's a good article about the benefits of reading with your kids:

The Benefits of Reading To Your Child

By: Rhonda Gales

To prepare your child for academic success, expose them to books early. Studies have shown that reading is one of the keys to academic success. My daughter loved for me to read aloud when she was a child, especially at bedtime. She loved Strawberry Shortcake, The Berenstain Bears, and any classic bedtime story. As she got older her interest would change, but she continued to read for hours. At age 27 she still loves to read. She follows Oprah's book club and she is a member of Walden's Books as well. One of my fondest memories will be our book fair excursions. We would plan a day where I would meet her at college and we would spend hours at the local book fair. Later we would discuss our finds as well as the latest happenings on campus over dinner. I do believe that our mutual love for books helped to create a strong mother - daughter bond.

My daughter was an honor student, a member of Who's Who in America, and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. I believe that her early exposure to books helped her to excel in her academics. Start reading to your child at an early age. It' never too soon.

Benefits of Reading to Your Child:

·Reading together creates a bond.
·Reading helps to build a child's vocabulary. If there was a word that my daughter didn't understand she would ask what the word meant. It's a perfect opportunity to expose them to the dictionary and read the definition to them.
·Your child will learn to follow a story from beginning to end. (You won't be able to fool them if you try to skip pages. If it's one of their favorite stories, they will know it by heart).
·Your child will have an appreciation for writing as well. My daughter decided to create her own stories. She would sit for hours writing, drawing pictures, and later reading her stories to me.
·Strong academics.

Reading Tips:

·Start reading to your child as early as 6 months. Children this age will usually want to eat their books. Vinyl books would be appropriate for this age group.
·Select reading material that interest your child and is appropriate to his/her age group. Toddlers love bright colors and books that are simple (without a lot of illustrations). Board books are perfect.
·Use different voices and pitches (vary your tone) when you read. Young children usually prefer to hear the same story over and over.
·Purchase a personalized book for your child. They love reading about themselves.
·PBS has great programs where they focus on words, spelling, and their meaning. Check out your TV Guide for time slots and programs.
·Have your child turn the page when you're reading. This gets them involved.
·Allow your child to ask questions, and be sure to ask your child questions about the story.
·Introduce them to book stores early, and allow your child to select books from his or her age group.
·Take them to the local library for story hour. Be sure to get them a library card.
·Set an example. If your child sees you reading, they will follow.
·Don't substitute books on tape. The true bonding experience and benefits come from you taking the time to read to your child.

Article Source:

About the Author - I'm the mother of a beautiful daughter and owner of an on-line business, Rhonda's Fabric Gift Baskets. For unique baby gifts, visit us at We feature diaper cakes, onesies, hand-crocheted dresses, sweaters, and christening gowns for infants. Gift baskets for all occasions! Be sure to visit our blog, Mother 2 Mother, at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer break getting closer

This is the last week of school and it's going to be a busy week! We (that is, the girls do) have a song/dance group performance one day and a field day/talent show another day.

The performance will be on Tuesday at their school. It's the last show of the year.

The field day and talent show will be Thursday, and children whose parents attended parents' night last week can come to school out of uniform! The kids are so excited about not having to wear a uniform that day. The field day part of the day will be full of outdoors activities, and the talent show will be that afternoon.

I'm not really ready for them to be out of school but it's here whether I want it to be or not. I'm certainly not looking forward to all their yelling and arguing and all the cooking and cleaning up after them that I'm going to have to do. Oh well. I'm still hoping for a good summer.

We're going to get things going next week by getting all the girls signed up for the reading group at the library, and we've got several other trips to local places planned for the summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We're groupies!

My daughter and niece's school performing group did two performances today at other schools and visited a couple of other places. My son and other niece followed them around all day and we decided that we're groupies!

Their performing group is a song and dance group that sings motivational and popular songs and the kids chosen to try out are on the honor roll and have excellent behavior. My daughter loves being in front of people and she's short, so she is on the first row, dancing, singing and smiling the whole time. My niece is tall and a tad shy, so she's kind of tucked away in the back row, but she might just like it up there.

They started this morning off with a performance at another elementary school in the district, and then visited a famous site for a little bit to run around and let off some steam. Then they went to a park to eat lunch and play, and they finished the day up with another performance at another elementary school in their district. They were gone from school all day and got back to school in time to go home!

My two kids and I followed them around in the car all day and had a very good time being groupies! My son danced, clapped and did the moves during both shows. Toward the end of both shows he got tired and dropped off for a nap. My sister-in-law got to come to the second performance. She couldn't come to the first one because of work. (Speaking of which, we were the only two parents who came. The kids do have a performance next week at their own school so maybe some of the parents will get to come then.)

The girls have one performance tomorrow and we're planning on being groupies again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Very busy schedule!

My head is spinning thinking about our very busy schedule for the rest of the month, mostly with school-related activities.

My older daughter has a presentation about the rain forest with her gifted and talented class Monday morning. It's a play, she said.

She and my older niece are in a performing group at their school for kids who have good behavior and good grades. They have been practicing their songs for a couple of months or so and it's getting time to start their tour!

The two girls have not one but TWO performances on Wednesday. The first one is that morning at an elementary school in our district and the second one is that afternoon at another elementary school in our district. The very next day, Thursday, they are going to an elementary school in a neighboring district for a performance. My younger daughter has a fit session that Thursday afternoon.

The following week, the girls have another performance on Tuesday morning at their own school. The next day the baby has to go get recertified for WIC and then he has a photo shoot later that morning. (It's penciled in, actually. We don't have official confirmation but most likely it will happen.)

There will also be some other field trips for good behavior and honor roll for the girls that I haven't been notified about yet. And of course every day or pretty much every day the baby and I have the breakfast and lunch thing at school with my younger niece.

We are also having a dishwasher and front doors installed in the next week or so, and we are going to spend the weekend with some friends this weekend.

This is all making me very tired just thinking about it!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

That was amazing

I have five kids to tend to in the mornings and believe it or not I didn't have to do ANYTHING for ANYONE this morning!

My nieces came a bit earlier today than they normally do. Their mom dropped them off here about 6:40 a.m. on her way to work. When they got here all the kids and I were still in the bed. My nieces got my girls up, and my girls for some odd reason got right up and got dressed.

My older daughter fixed her own hair and made her own lunch, and my older niece fixed my younger daughter's hair. By the time I got up all I had to do was get in the shower. I didn't even have to choose any clothes for myself since my younger niece did that. The baby woke up while I was in the shower and the girls changed his diaper and dressed him. My husband had gotten home from his first job of the day by then and was entertaining the baby and everyone when I got finished getting myself ready.

Really the only things I did this morning were put socks on the baby, give my niece a belt, and pull lunch fixings out for my daughter.

I know that will never happen again but it sure was nice this morning!

Normally I have to do everything from getting girls' clothes out, making them get out of bed, combing their hair, changing and dressing the baby, and a ton of other things, and that's after I've slept until the last possible second. We manage to get it all done by 7:30 or 7:35 a.m. but not having to do anything this morning sure made things start out great for me!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A year ago today ...

... I took the kids to school, wrote a couple of stories, called my mom, called a friend, cleaned up around the house, picked the kids up from school, and then HAD A BABY!!

I can't believe a year has gone by already. It seems like it has gone so fast. This past year has been exhausting, overwhelming and wonderful. He brings so much joy to all our lives and we are so glad to have him.

Monday, March 24, 2008

They're famous!

The girls' photograph is in the latest issue of one of the papers I write for. I blogged about our trip to the Clinton Presidential Center in the previous post, and their photo taken there was printed in the March issue of STAND News.

They were viewing the White House in Miniature display there at the Clinton Center, and the story it accompanied described their visit.

They thought it was pretty cool to be in the paper.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A day of history and culture with the kids

The kids and I had a great day of history and culture! I needed to accompany a group to the Historic Arkansas Museum and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, and the kids were out of school, so along they came with me!

We saw Adella the Storyteller at the museum, saw lots of neat things at the presidential center, and finished the day up with a ride on the trolley.

Adella told an African tale about the drongo bird in Madagascar, related the tale of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch, and finished up with a story about a buzzard tricking a squirrel and a rabbit into becoming a meal for him but he couldn't trick a monkey. (My six-year-old daughter has been doing a fabulous buzzard imitation since then!)

My son got to walk around through the crowd with Adella, and that was okay until she pulled out a tambourine and started playing!

The girls thought it was great fun to go through security at the presidential center, and they thought sitting around the Cabinet Room table was pretty cool too. They wanted to sit in the President's chair, which is two inches higher than the other chairs.

The highlight of the presidential center for them was seeing the White House in miniature, on display there temporarily. It was pretty much a huge dollhouse to them but my eight-year-old daughter said she feels like she's been to the real White House now.

A trolley ride was a great way to end the day. We rode past the museum and the presidential center, which was pretty interesting to them, but a handclap game was much more to their liking!